founder

Boundless Robotics Founder Carl Palme on Judgment-Free Cannabis

Introduction

Perspectives on cannabis are shifting in the United States. It’s now fully legal in 19 states, and President Biden recently pardoned Americans convicted of simple possession under federal law. But old stigmas die hard, so a lot of users still feel more comfortable growing their own cannabis in private.

Boundless Robotics makes growing cannabis at home easy. Requiring only weekly water changes and the push of a button, the company’s artificially intelligent robot, Annaboto, does all the hard work. We reached out to founder and CEO Carl Palme to learn about the company’s regulatory hurdles and other applications for Annaboto.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Yasmin Sharbaf

In your own words, how would you describe your company?

Carl Palme

We are a robotics company that is focusing on solving the problem of food supply in the future, starting with cannabis today.

Yasmin Sharbaf

What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?

Carl Palme

As an engineer and product guy who has made a career of democratizing technology, I wanted to use my experience in solving a really big problem that could leverage my knowledge of robotics and artificial intelligence, and making the solutions accessible to everyone. I also happen to have the opposite of a green thumb and cannot grow plants at home to save my life.

Yasmin Sharbaf

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Carl Palme

Most people on my team are either engineers or marketers. Most of us also happen to be colleagues from previous companies (e.g., Rethink Robotics, Neurala). We know how to work well together and get things done.

Yasmin Sharbaf

How is Boundless Robotics transforming the cannabis technology industry?

Carl Palme

We are making it easy for anyone to grow at home effortlessly. People want access to fresh, high-quality, pesticide-free cannabis with consistent effects. As the price of cannabis goes down and wages go up, something will have to break. Either cannabis quality will go down or prices will get out of reach for the people who need it most.

We are transforming the industry because we are putting the source of supply right at the fingertips of the consumer, with easy-to-use technology in a beautiful package. That should help normalize the product as well.

Yasmin Sharbaf

What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?

Carl Palme

There are two categories: the do-it-yourselfers (DIYers) and the automated boxes. 

DIYers will continue to try things themselves and spend time and money on the equipment. They are interested in learning more about the growing process and may spend money on an automated solution to help guarantee at least some yield. This is a market that already spends upward of $2 billion per year and represents 6% of cannabis consumers. 

The automation boxes provide easier solutions for people but come at a significant cost ($2,000 to $3,000). They also look like refrigerators. They are targeting the mainstream market (as is Boundless Robotics), and this market has the potential to reach upward of $7 billion as more states and countries legalize.

We are different because our system is:

  • Not a large, imposing box, but a modular machine that can fit in any city dweller’s living room and is easier to maintain and support.
  • Less expensive than automated box competitors and about the same cost as what people might spend on a DIY solution.
  • Beautiful. We want to help elevate the conversation around cannabis consumption for health and wellness. Around 90% of consumers use cannabis for those reasons, and we want to help them fight the stigma and share their relationship with this life-changing plant.
  • Fully automated so that everyone can use it regardless of their experience level and time constraints.
Yasmin Sharbaf

With varying cannabis regulations across the U.S. and the world, how do you plan to expand?

Carl Palme

We happen to sell fancy buckets and electronics. We are not a plant-touching company, which means there is very little regulation around our product. (E.g., it has to be Underwriter Laboratories certified like any other consumer product.) Because we don’t touch plants, we are also exempt from the 280E tax code, which makes it more attractive to investors. 

As for growth and expansion, the market is already big enough with the states and countries where cannabis is legal to grow at home. As more states and more countries legalize, the market will continue to grow, and we will have to adapt to local regulations for consumer products. 

Today, we plan to only sell and ship to any of the 18 states where it is legal to grow at home for adult use in the USA.

Yasmin Sharbaf

Can Boundless Robotics units be used to grow other plants besides cannabis?

Carl Palme

Absolutely! Our mission is to help people grow 5% of their food at home by 2030. We are optimizing for cannabis because the market is really big, eager for a solution, and willing to spend the money on our product. As the company grows and we achieve economies of scale, we will create solutions optimized for food. 

Having said all of that, you can grow any plant on our system — today. I’m actually growing habanero, jalapeno, and sweet peppers on our machines and have grown arugula and chamomile in the past.

Yasmin Sharbaf

You state that Boundless Robotics has 500-plus presale sign-up units. When do you expect to deliver them? What’s the estimated gross profit margin on these units?

Carl Palme

For the 500 units, we expect to deliver those in the first half of 2023, and our margins will be around 40% for those. As we get to 1,000 units, we can expect margins of 60% or better. We know this because we have already been quoted the production costs by several contract manufacturers and are getting similar prices from all of them.

Yasmin Sharbaf

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Carl Palme

Our current bottleneck is production, and that is because we are 3D printing the units, which takes about seven days per unit per printer. This is not scalable. We are raising so that we can purchase the tools to be able to make one unit every 30 minutes per person on the line.

Yasmin Sharbaf

What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?

Carl Palme

Hardware is difficult, both from the engineering and marketing side of things. We know this because we have all done hardware for several decades. Our team is very experienced in the space, and we are known for our dedication to execute on our vision. We also have a really good reputation for building and selling solutions, not more problems.

Yasmin Sharbaf

As you think about the business five to 10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for the company?

Carl Palme

The technology we are building can reach maximum scale by being acquired by any of the companies that are currently focusing on agricultural tech and have the facilities and channels to scale worldwide. We expect that we might get acquired by the time we sell our 100,000th unit, which we forecast to be in four to five years. 

We look forward to seeing where Carl and his team take the company. Boundless Robotics is currently raising on Wefunder.

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About: Yasmin Sharbaf

Yasmin is passionate about the intersection of business, art, and science. Prior to KingsCrowd, Yasmin worked on a cryptocurrency investing research project for Wellesley College Investment Office where she assessed the risks and rewards for university endowment investment into cryptocurrency. She has also previously worked in a neuroscience lab studying language and memory of songbirds. Yasmin’s dream is to make investing and financial education accessible to everyone. In her free time, Yasmin enjoys going on adventures, learning new languages, and exploring different cultures. Yasmin studied Neuroscience and Studio Art at Wellesley College.

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